Homeschool Conference!!!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I LOVE Packages....

I just received a second gift in the mail from a friend I made while on a retreat in McCall earlier this Fall...

I am so excited to learn from all that these pages hold me for ~ I know it's going to be so helpful to me while I am on this path of learning all I can about the world of cooking.  I would LOVE to go to a Culinary Arts Program, but that is not in the cards for me at this time in my life, soooo.....I'll just soak it all in through these pages and do it "my way!"

After all, I am a homeschooling Mom, so I am used to doing it my way.  :0)

A HUGE THANK YOU to Ramona for such a sweet gift ~ I am overcome by your kindness!
...I will love, love, love using this book and will hopefully be able to share something wonderful from it's pages with you!  :0) 

Not too long ago, I also received this in a package in the mail...
Photo: Look at the super sweet gift that arrived in the mail for me...Thanks Sandy Rowe--can't wait to have some fun baking with my kiddos!!!
Can I tell you how exciting it is to get a package in the mail??? 

I am used to just receiving bills and junk mail,
nothing fun and for me...
so this has been quite the treat...
two in the same month...
Sandy and Ramona...
the two of you have given me a wonderful reason to smile...
I really appreciate you and your kind hearts!!!

YOU both make me want to do something nice for someone else so they can feel as great as I do ~ it's not even about the sweet gift, it's just about you reaching out...your kindness and your sweet thoughts mean more than you'll ever know.  {{HUGS}} to you!

Now, I'm off to flip through the pages and do a little baking...
who knows what I'll come up with!!!

Fish Slappers!!!

We've been busy studying a little history around here...
The topic we've spent some time on that I keep wishing to go back to is the study of The Assyrians and The Babylonians...

Those Assyrians just were not the nicest of people...
I shared a video (parts of it anyway) with my kids that related the cruelty of the acts these people participated in. 
So harsh,
 so sad...
but history and so,
I felt parts of it were worth sharing...

BUT I am happy to say that I am following it all up with a nice, sweet ending...

Jonah:  A Veggies Tale Movie...

This sweet simple story portrays the people of Nineveh (the Assyrians) as a group of nasty "Fish Slappers!!!"

"Fish Slapping"  just sounds so much happier than the terrorizing acts that the entire Middle East went through at the hands of the Assyrians.

History can be ugly...
I still love teaching it,
and believe it is one of the most vital of all things for our children to know and understand...however, I also love to keep the innocence of my children alive as long as possible; thus the reason for following up with a little bit of sweetness.

Maybe I'm foolish but I'd rather leave fish slapping in their minds than the awful terror that was actually experienced. 

I love that Jonah delivered his message that he'd been sent to share and that the people from Nineveh put down their mackerels and their halibuts and went about doing good...

(unfortunately, as we continue on through the history of these people, we find that it was fairly short-lived, in a matter of just 40 years they were back to their tyrannical ways)  But again, that is history and that seems to be the cycle for most civilizations...

I also love that Jonah had some serious lessons to learn himself...compassion and mercy were big for him to "get"...

I appreciate the lessons that are taught in this little movie...

and so numerous ~

Slow to Anger
Unconditional Love
Power of Prayer
Second Chances
a lesson in stopping all the fish slapping and starting to be nice to all the people...
and then finally watching as Jonah learns a few lessons of his own...

Can't wait for the conversation will start the moment this movie ends....
And the music that will surely be happening throughout my house, I can hear it now...
"Jonah was a prophet...oo,oo, but he really never got it...oo, oo...Jonah was a prophet, oo, oo, ....compassion and mercy from me to you and you to me...that's what God wants to see...Jonah was a prophet....oo, ooo!"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gratitude brings about true happiness...

As I've watched over this past month of November friend after friend posting daily what they are thankful for...I found myself wishing I had done the same, but each time I saw one, I'd think of those things I felt grateful I think in my own "special little way" I embraced what was significant.

On Thanksgiving Day, I tried very hard to focus on all the wonderful things in my life...the numerous blessings I have...

Everything from my beautiful family,
to a warm home to live in,
to good food to eat,
to the Love I have for my Savior and the Unconditional Love HE has for me...

right on down to the simple "things" that I Love in my home ~

Shall I share a few with you???

Okay, you twisted my arm hard enough...I'll gladly share!  ;)

I looked down at my feet and smiled ~

who can resist smiling when wearing polka dots on their feet?
And the multi-color also makes me smile (If I allow it to)...
you see,
the reason I can NEVER find a "matching" pair of socks is that all my girls prefer to mis-match their socks...and guess what their favorite socks are???
MY POLKA DOT ONES...but can ya blame 'em?
So yea, double reason to smile at those cute socks!

I had to smile as I pulled my pumpkin pies out of the oven...

and then I allowed them to cool and added all the "Pretties" to them...

Just lovely!

And then the Peaches and Cream Pie...oh so yummy!!!

And while we are on the subject of ovens and the beautiful things we can bake in them, I will share another HUGE thing I am grateful for...
count 'em


I know,
totally crazy
but in a completely and totally wonderful crazy kind of way.
I can cook up a storm in this kitchen!

While watching the Holiday Parade, my little girls were dancing around and I caught them in a spin together ~

their happiness and delight with one another could melt any ones heart ~ especially mine!

I am grateful for my menu board...I know it sounds kinda dumb...but it's another one of those things that has just made my life easier...gotta love that!

I am grateful for the beautiful music that fills my home...
Danielle plays and sings and my heart dances!

Our little girls are now taking lessons a couple times a month ~
their music makes me is beautiful in such a sweet and pure sort of way. 

I love my rocking chair ~
even though my babies are getting bigger by the day ~ I still love this chair with all of my heart! 
And EVERY chance I get...I will still rock one of those darling children of mine...they may be almost as big as I am (and some of them bigger) but that's not gonna stop me!!!

I will never forget the day I received it as a gift from my husband. 
I was pregnant and actually in labor with our son Bryce...
it was Christmas Day, just shy of 14 years ago...
and this was the special gift my hubby gave me. 
Our son was not due until late in January...but Christmas Eve he began wishing to make his appearance a little early.  :0)
I rocked that sweet boy of mine before I ever held him in my arms...
we rocked away Christmas Day
and Christmas Night
and into the morning...
that little child was determined to have his own day ~
the day after Christmas he finally blessed us with his presence. 
He still remains the most precious Chirstmas Gift I've ever received!
This wonderful rocking chair held me and our last four babies every single night as I rocked them to sleep...I am so thankful I took the time to cherish those moments with my babies and so thankful to a husband who knew how very much I would love to have a rocker.  (So much easier than being a human rocking chair like I was for the first three)

I love my tea kettle...such a happy yellow!

In fact, I just used it before beginning this post...tea and late nights go hand in hand!

I love being a Grammy...
My sweet little Preston wanted so badly to eat whipped cream...
So I had him help me whip it all up, add a little sugar and vanilla,
and then he was the taste tester!

That was one happy little guy...the best part was when I gave him a piece of the peaches and cream pie and put a big ol' dollop of whip cream beside it...his eyes grew as wide as ever and then he had a smile to match!
Those little people make my heart melt!!!

Candles ~
I love them...

day time, night time, bath time...
with a flame
or without...
I'll have to look it up, but I am CERTAIN that a Mom created the first candle
and I have no doubt that right after she did
she smiled
and then she relaxed
and was at peace
that's just what a candle can do for you...

I love my Kitchen Aid...
It has seen better days.

It no longer works on the low setting, so now and then I get quite a surprise of a mess as it turns itself onto a high power...always at the most inopportune times...flour flying, or liquid spewing all over the place...
But the reason I love this handy little kitchen tool is for the smiles and the happiness it helps me to bring to my family!
That is why it is wearing out...I wish I had any idea how many times this little hummer has done it's job...suffice it to say, it has earned its keep in my kitchen!
IF I ever replace it...I'll be searching for the Yellow adorable would that be sitting on my counter??? 
I can imagine it perfectly! 

A big, big one on my list is really such a small one...
but it's important ~
and IF you haven't tried THIS toothpaste...YOU MUST!
I love it!!!
There is nothing else that makes your mouth wake up wishing to shout "Hooray, I'm ready to start a new day!" like this fabulous tube of extreme clean!

One more that stands out in my mind...
Our School Room...
This represents so many things to me.
I LOVE that I have the blessing of homeschooling our children,
I LOVE that I have the freedom to do so,
I LOVE that we have this fabulous room to spend our days in
and I LOVE that it is large enough to invite many families to join us making our own special little school a couple days a week! 
One more thing I LOVE about it...
I LOVE all that it holds ~

art in the making -- because this classroom is all about creating and expressing who you are -- it is about finding who you are and embracing that special YOU.

In our classroom, we have some other very special "things" --
Classroom pets ~ Max and Millie, our turtles!
Our box of Silk Worms...
We started out with at least 50...
half were named Fred,
the other half Bob...
unfortunately, our number of silk worms is dwindling...we may be down to a handful or two of each ~ they should have taken lessons from Max and Millie who've been with us a long time.
Zeek just passed away...
he was our classroom lizard...
he was a charming little guy ~ too bad he didn't stick around a little longer.
Next on the list???  Who knows...
What I do know is that this room makes me happy for so many reasons...
Most of all my happiness stems from all the amazing kiddos that fill it daily!!! much to be grateful for...
so many reasons to feel happiness!

One thing I can't photograph that I really love is the feeling that I have when I know everyone is about to arrive on a special day...

It is such a...
well, you know...
it feels like...
dang, how could I possibly describe this for you...
then go back to being a little child
remember getting ready to walk into
that special room
on that special day
Christmas morning
try to recall
that special feeling inside you
the one
that is just bubbling over
that is just ready to jump out
and then jump up and down
and announce to the world
that you are just as warm and fuzzy on the inside
as you feel on the outside when wrapped in the arms of someone you love.

Yeah, that kinda describes how I feel...
just so perfect and warm and fuzzy...

I should probably end this little post of mine here, I think I might be able to go on for a week adding in all the things I am grateful for and I'd love to continue with this show and tell, but I'm sure you have something important waiting for you...and I'd hate to keep you from it...
so until next time, know that I am also grateful for YOU!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Traditions worth counting on!!!

What I think I love the very most about this time of year is the traditions that come with it...
I love "counting" on things that I KNOW are coming...
it just adds a little spark to my days.

Thanksgiving Day was beautiful.

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, Just Perfect...
It holds another tradition...
YES, it includes shopping,
BUT that is the SMALL part of it...
what it is really all about is spending time with people I LOVE that I don't see often enough. 

Each year, for many years now,
my cousin Angie and I rise bright and early and head out to the stores...
we always sneak in a yummy cocoa for me and coffee for her...
we look,
sometimes we buy,
but it really isn't about the buying ~
that's just a bonus if we find spectacular deals that we just cannot live without!!!
There have been "those years" when we bought so many things we wondered where we could possibly fit in the car afterwards...those are times worth remembering.  We laughed about years that we stood in lines outside and then stood in lines inside...our goal was to make sure everyone around us was smiling ~ too many grouchy people out on days like these ~ But not after standing close to us!!! 
This year was actually the first year we weren't out hours before the sun started to peek it's sweet head over the mountain tops...we slept in and then left after our cocoa and coffee and we were off ~ it was perfect for this year...maybe NEXT YEAR I will be back up to doing the whole crazy thing again, but this year it felt like a little too much.

I love, love, love my time with Angie...
we are only a month apart in age...
she teases me that I'm OLD! 
We have memories that started when we were just itty, bitty. 
We got into far too much trouble together when we were young and not so smart, our moms were at their wits end because of the two of us!
We've been there for each other through so many things
and now we cherish the times we can get together to share our lives and stay connected...I wish we weren't so busy...but we do great catching up when we do see each other!!!
We laugh
and we talk
and we laugh some more...
and we talk and talk and talk and talk...
We search diligently to find the PERFECT parking spot...
then Angie sings "Hallelujah" when one opens up...
that's when we KNOW we were meant to be out shopping on this glorious day!

Then we meet up with our other cousins and aunts, moms and sisters and now my older daughters for a celebration lunch...
usually Olive Garden for the amazing soup, salad and bread sticks...
this lunch typically lasts for 3 + hours, cause we just cannot get enough of one another ~
there's a lot to catch up on when you only see each other a few times a year.

once again,
I am SUPER happy with my last two days...
I LOVED my time with people I LOVE...

Found a couple of fantastic deals ~ LOVE it when that happens!!!
Christmas will be sweet and simple around here ~ those are the best kind!
I am looking forward to making some FUN gifts for my kiddos and grand babies and IF i can sneak in enough time, I even have one planned for my hubby.

Looking forward to this next month, as it is also packed with beautiful traditions for our family...
Tomorrow will be The Christmas Light Hanging Day...
Did you know such a day existed??? 
Yep, it does and I LOVE it!!!

On the 8th ~ off to the MOUNTAINS ~
The perfect Christmas Tree will be waiting for us!!!

So much to look forward to...

the baking
and the bow making
and the decorating
and all our favorite little Christmas movies
and the sledding
and the drives late at night looking at all the Christmas Lights
the parties
and the friends
and the family...

These are all traditions worth counting on...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Delish PIE CRUST ... I am SO happy!

Okay...I spent pretty much my entire day Monday determined to PERFECT and MASTER a Gluten Free Pie Crust...
I am happy to say that I accomplished what I set out to do!
At least as far as the taste factor goes...
still working on making them look PERFECT...
not sure if that is going to happen, but I'm giving it my best shot!
Those of you who know me well know that I don't give up easily!!!
The truth is though, if I can only have one thing pretty close to perfect, I'd prefer it were the taste...if it doesn't look quite so beautiful, maybe that's really is all about how happy it makes your mouth feel, right?

After spending most of the day, I started to wonder if it was really worth all the effort...
That was about the time for taste tests...yep, I'd say it was worth it!
Pretty yummy!

When my hubby came home from work,
he asked what we were having for dinner...
I looked at the clock a little shocked at the time and suggested,
He smiled his great smile,
so pie it was for the whole family...
I had all my little judges critiquing which crust was the tastiest and the flakiest and the prettiest...

I tried a couple different recipes, one that I found on the internet and another that I reworked from my FAV Recipe ever...
in the end, "THE CHOSEN ONE" turned out the be the one I had re-invented to be Gluten Free...
it turned out very flaky...and reminded me very much of a shortbread flavor and texture.
Oh Happy Day!!!

So without further adieu...let's get to making a delicious, flaky GF pie crust...

Your list of ingredients:

3 Cups All Purpose GF Flour Mix
2 Cups GF Mix for Goodies
(Flour Mixes are on a past post that you can find here: Gluten Free Flour Recipes...
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar (packed)
2 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 3/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 Cup Crisco
1 Cup Butter
1 Egg
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Cup (or less) Ice COLD water

Mix all dry ingredients together with a fork
Add Crisco and Butter, sliced into small pieces, into flour mixture.
Use your pastry blender for the first couple of minutes to help break up the fats.
Then put it to the side and let your fingers get busy...this works the very best!

The motion you will use is NOT like Kneading bread dough...
You are kind of massaging with your thumb and your first two fingers and just gently working the dough...This breaks up the fats and allows them to bind with the flours nicely.

You are done when your mixture resembles small pebbles in your bowl ~ a cornbread type consistency.

Now you will beat your egg and apple cider vinegar together and pour into your flour mixture, spreading it as evenly as possible over the top, then simply work it in with your fingers just as before.

Now take your ice cold water...I prefer to have a larger bowl of ice water and then pour it into my measuring cup...

SLOWLY add your water,
a LITTLE at a time until you end up with a nice ball of dough. 

IF you have some crumbly stuff on the bottom, LEAVE IT...
take out the nice ball you have and set it to the side. 
NOW you can add a smidgen more water to pick up your leftover crumblies...
when they have formed a nice ball, just stick them right into the middle of your larger ball...
they will mesh together very nicely.

At this point...
grab out your parchment paper
your rolling pin
and a little tapioca flour.

Also, this is a great time to choose the pie plate you will be using.
I LOVE using my glass pie dishes...
I think they cook more evenly and I just love the way they look compared to the little metal tins...
BUT those will work just dandy if that's what you have.  :0)

Okay, ready to roll???

You will need a nice amount of pie dough in your hands,
I like to just mold it nicely into a small disc and then place it on my parchment paper that I've put just a little flour onto...
You only need to place your hand into your flour bowl
(Fingers out, just like you would do if you were going to trace your hand to make a lovely little turkey!) 
What comes out on your hand is plenty enough flour to add to your parchment your little disc down and do the same with the flour on your rolling pin...One hand print will do...You will reapply it as needed when the dough starts wanting to stick to the rolling pin.

Rolling pin in hand???
Let's get to it!

Roll a couple times back and forth (same direction) always starting in the center and working out.
This will ensure an even crust...if you start from the edges and work's just not good, so don't do it. 
Then FLIP your dough and do the opposite side, back and forth.
If necessary, do again and again...

YOU do NOT need to make a perfect circle here, so don't even bother with such will be cutting off any excess in a minute anyway, so save yourself the bother.

When it looks just as you'd like, roll your parchment paper and pie dough and then place over the top of your pie dish...this is so much easier than trying to lift the dough...
one sad note: 
GF pie dough is not as easy to work with as regular is a little more fragile and less forgiving...BUT never fear, you can always do a little patchwork if needed.  :0)

After you've got that pie crust in your dish just can grab yourself a little butter knife and trim away the edges...super easy!  NOW, IF you are wishing to add a top crust, you will want to trim a little less so as to have some extra for adhering the top layer to.

After you are done there, add your favorite "insides"
This scrumptious looking one was a hit for dinner...
Cherry/Blueberry Pie,
yeah, it was gooooood!

Something to make note of here:
Make sure to NOT fill your dish TOO FULL
or it will just bubble out all over and make a nasty mess.
I fill it to just barely below the top of my pie dish.

Next, you'll add your top crust...
do just as you did for the bottom layer, rolling it up to place over the top...
this is where you may have to do a little patchwork...
I had to, sadly, but it still turned out pretty nice. 
And again...what matters the most???
The taste...
If it tastes yummy, they will get over it not looking Perfect!

If you add just a little water to your finger tips, it makes the two layers of crust stick together quite nicely as you flute the edges.

Make sure to put a few little slits (4 is fine)
to vent.  This will also help with not having it bubble over.

If you wish to make it adorable...
use your favorite little cookie cutter right in the middle.
(this is actually done prior to placing it on the pie)
I cut out the shape and set it to the side.
After the pie is all nice and ready for the oven, I place the little cut out shape right back in its place and let it bake...looks just cute as can be when it's baked!

If you like, you can add a dandy little wash over top to make it shine...

This again, would be done, PRIOR to BAKING...
Simply beat an egg and brush over the top,
then sprinkle evenly with a dusting of sugar.
YOU will love the shine!

Sadly, I left out that little detail prior to my baking, so no shine happening here, but next time, ya better grab your sunglasses cause I won't forget!!!
Place your pie in your preheated oven ~
I chose to set mine at 400*
Move your bottom rack ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE VERY, VERY BOTTOM!!!
That's the IMPORTANT part if you didn't catch it.
Your top will NOT burn and will turn out just lovely this way...
no need to do any covering of the edges at all...
AND the bottom crust turns out just right...
nice and flaky ~
none of that ooey, gooey, yucky mushy crust goin' on here!

Just cook until the crust is nice and golden on top...
I think mine cooked for about 4o minutes...just watch for that golden color.

Check it out!!!
And the next picture speaks for itself!

This pie was a hit!

So what do you think? 
A wasted day???
Or a day to treasure?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Show and Tell Time...

Wanna see what I've been up to???

I started a couple of these on the retreat I cooked at a little while back and finally finished them up and have them where they belong...

The first is my favorite ~ it is displayed in my kitchen ~ what do you think?

I absolutely LOVE it!!! 
Makes me happy.  :0)

Next is another one I really love ~
Give Thanks...
I didn't have too many things around here that I had made for Thanksgiving and since I love this holiday and all that it stands for I wanted to make sure to honor it in a special way...
so voila...this is what I did.

I think it turned out pretty darn cute, if I say so myself!!!

And finally,
one that will be super fun for my kiddos...
a sign that is versatile for anything and everything that is coming up.
How many times are you asked these kinds of questions?
"How many more days until Halloween?" 
"How many more days until we can go bowling?"
"How many more days until Christmas?"
"How many more days until we can paint our fingernails?"
"How many more days until I can do your hair, Mom?"
"How many more days until my Birthday?"
"How many more days until we can go swimming?"
"How many more days until Saturday?"
"How many,
how many,
how many???"

IT can be EXHAUSTING...SO, I created a cure for what ails me...
And here it is!!!

Chalk board paint on the ends
so they can fill the days and the event in
and keep track of it themselves...
genius, huh??? 
Yeah, I thought so, too!!! 
And I really prefer the distressed look ~
so I bunged it up a bit, took my handy little sander to it and made it look like it was already loved!

Well, that's all I have for Show and Tell today...

Happy Saturday Night to YOU!
I am off to join my pillow and blanket...they are calling me!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Science Fair Projects!!!

Well, that time of year rolled around again,
finding the Lytle family deep in the world of Science and all that we could learn from it.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Science Fairs!!!

Seeing the creativity of all the kids does it for me...
Once a year, we hold a Science Fair for any and all homeschooling families in our area, this year
we had little ones from the age of 3 or 4 all the way up to teens participating.
This is a time that the kids can shine in their own special way, sharing what they love and the things they are interested in learning about.

Now it's show and tell time for's what my kiddos did!

I have to say that one of the projects for my kids wasn't what I would generally classify as a Science Project...but if you take a look at the picture below, you will know that what was learned was worth more than anything else in this world...
two brothers
who usually
prefer dukin' it out
with one another
were working side by side on their project...

it was all about bikes ~
because that just happens to be what rocks their world...
but they did a great job. 
They showed the differences between the various bikes we have in our garage, as well as the difference in bikes from the very beginning of bikes...
which, in their opinion -- is one of the finest creations this earth has ever seen!
They went into the braking system and the various kinds of brakes you might find on a bike.
They also covered the suspension...didn't know there was so much to all of this, but they did and they were happy to share it.
Coming from a household of boys that LOVE to ride and jump and sail through the air...I am grateful that they at least have an understanding of how their bikes operate. 
Cutie-Pie Boys!!!

Our next Science Fair entry was all about Islands...
what forms them, where they are located, the favorite island of my sweet little girl -- which happens to be Coconut Island, and the differences between an island, a peninsula and an isthmus...
Unfortunately, I didn't capture her moment of showing one way an island could be formed (with the sea level rising) as she poured her pitcher of water over her landscape forming various islands, peninsulas and isthmus'...but it was cute ~ she did a great job.
And check out her poster board (this is just the center section of it, I wanted you to be able to see it up close and personal!)...
she's an artistic little one! 
I think she had a great time learning about the islands, the only problem is that she wishes to go visit them and I can't make that one happen. 
I guess that's what books and google are for, right?  :0)

And the final entry for the Science Fair from the Lytle Family...
was all about Oceans and Seas.
Pretty dang cute! 

And just like our other little girl, this one wishes to go try out swimming in sea water.  She did an experiment with two eggs and two cups of water...what she was trying to see was whether an egg would float or sink in "regular water" and the same with the "salt water"...
Sure enough, the floater happened in the salty water, which represented her oceans and seas and the one in the regular water sank like a rock!  She thinks going to the Dead Sea would be the best test for her body...I'm thinking that might not be the case, I wonder if she'd settle for a swimming pool filled with salt water???

Well, until next year...or until one of them gets a wild hair (which could be as soon as tomorrow or next week) we are officially done with Science Fair Projects.

History Fair is next on the radar...
I wonder what kind of fun we'll come up with there???

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breakfast is served...

The following breakfast recipes are all gluten free...
but don't click away...
they are DELICIOUS!!!!
and they won't give you a tummy ache when you eat them.

It used to be that when I would make pancakes (also from scratch) that my little one would be rolling around on the floor, holding her tummy, crying...those days are more tears ~ just smiles and happy tummies!

And the very best part...
I seldom tell people that what i am serving is gluten free and I end up hearing the nicest compliments such as, "These are the BEST pancakes I've ever had, are they from a box or a mix?" 
Never do I hear, "oh, these are pretty good for being gluten free." 
That's just an insult wrapped in a pretty bow.

(For the flour mixes below, simply go to my post titled:  Gluten Free Flour Recipes)

4 C All Purpose GF Flour Mix
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/4 C Sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder

Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl...
Mix the following ingredients together in a separate bowl
6 eggs
3 1/2 Cups Coconut Milk
(feel free to use any type of milk you desire, Coconut Milk that is vanilla enriched is my favorite!)
2 tsp Vanilla

Pour over top of dry ingredients and mix gently with wire whisk.
Stir in 1 Cup Melted Butter.

With 1/3 C measuring cup, pour onto hot griddle...
Cook until bubbly, then flip...should be nice and golden brown.
I will often use my spatula and "smash down" after cooking on the first side to ensure that they cook nicely all the way through.

So yummy!

Buttermilk Pancakes
Follow all dry ingredients for pancake recipe above

In separate bowl, mix together
6 eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
3 1/2 C Milk
1 Tbsp vinegar (this will make your buttermilk flavor)

Follow as you would for the regular pancake recipe adding the melted butter and cooking just the same.

German Pancakes
This will make one 9 x 13 pan...I usually double this recipe to feed my little army!
Preheat oven to 425*

1 Cup Featherlight mix
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Milk
4 eggs beaten
1 tsp Vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together.  Mix eggs, vanilla and milk and pour over dry ingredients, mix well!
Put 2 Tbsp butter into your 9 x 13 baking dish and put into your oven for about 2 minutes until the butter is melted.  Tilt your dish to make sure the butter has full coverage on the bottom...then pour your pancake mixture into the dish and bake for about 18-20 minutes.
Watch to see the amazing creation happening in your oven ~ each time looks a little different!
Your edges may become a little crispy while the center continues cooking, it's okay...this may be my very favorite part!

You are sure to love this buttery dish...Serve hot with powdered sugar or syrup.

Golden Pancakes
This is a fairly small I don't make them quite as often.
This pancake is the most filling pancake I've ever tried!  They cook up so nicely, I love 'em!

In a blender combine:
2 Cups uncooked oats
6 eggs
2 Cups Cottage cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp sugar

Blend until nice and smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour batter, 1/4 C each and cook on hot griddle.
Serve with fresh berries or syrup.

These are a great source of protein!!!

 To ensure that these are gluten free, just use gluten free oats.

In my opinion, you can never have too many great recipes for breakfast...more to come!!!  :0)

Gluten Free Flour Recipes


Now we can get down to business...
with all the items you purchased from your shopping list in my previous post
I will tell you how to put them together to make all the yumminess your heart desires!!!

If you picked up your bulk items, just place them into 5 gallon buckets with screw top lids for ease...if you are anything like me, you'll be in them on a very regular basis.

Now...I messed up and should have told you when you went out shopping to pick up a few extra containers to keep your mixes in...something like these maybe.

A few of these came from the dollar store and the others are just old ice cream buckets.
Anything will work!
I put my mixes together at least once a week and just keep them right out on my counter since I use them daily, you can do whatever works best for you.  :0)

Let's get to it!!!

Gluten Free (GF) Mix
6 Cups Brown Rice Flour
2 Cups Potato Starch
1 Cup Tapioca Starch

Gluten Free (GF) Goodie Mix
6 Cups White Rice Flour
2 Cups Potato Starch
1 Cup Tapioca Starch

Featherlight Mix
3 Cups White Rice Flour
3 Cups Cornstarch
3 Cups Tapioca Starch
3 Tbsp Potato Flour

All Purpose GF Flour Mix
6 Cups Featherlight Mix
2 C GF Mix

Each of these mixes can be stored for about 18 months with no problem...
I haven't had the chance to check that out personally, as I go through them weekly, but I do a lot of baking and a lot of cooking.

Next post:
Pancakes, Buttermilk Pancakes, German Pancakes and Golden Pancakes...Breakfast is served!

Gluten Free Baking ~ Shopping List

I am planning to add several recipes that are gluten free...
I LOVE to bake
and was so unhappy
when I found that my world
would have to become a Gluten Free World...
I was certain my days of delicious little goodies were a thing of the past. 
It seemed that almost everything I tried was nasty, or at best, barely tolerable.

This was not the way I intended to eat for the rest of my life
and I certainly wasn't willing to torture my family with less than desirable food!

So my quest began!
I have had several friends who have shared their secrets with me and to them I am very grateful.
Now I wish to share some of the things I have gathered and my own secrets to making baking a wonderful experience again.

FIRST AND FOREMOST are your flour recipes...
no longer will you just run to the store and pick up a bag of flour
or even grind your own...
you will have to be intentional in your baking in a whole new way.

BUT it is FUN and it is YUMMY AND it is so WORTH IT!!!

The things you will need first off are below,
the list is not too long and I'll try to give you a few tips to where I've found these items:

Brown Rice Flour ~ I pick this one up in bulk from Winco...if you go back to the bulk food section and ask them for it, they will order it in...not too pricey.

Tapioca Flour/Starch (these are the same...not sure why they didn't make it easy and just call them one or the other...but they didn't, so just know that you just need Tapioca) ~ Also available at Winco in bulk.

Potato Starch ~ not to be confused with Potato Flour ~ because you will need both and they serve different purposes.  I have been able to find Potato Starch at the Fred Meyer in the bulk section, kinda spendy.

Potato Flour ~ again not to be confused with Potato need both.  I think I was only able to find this one at Jake's Gluten Free Store...comes in a small bag (you don't need much of this one, so a small bag will do quite nicely)

Cornstarch ~ just head on over to the bulk section at Winco for this item as well.  I was very surprised at how much of this I use...pretty cheap stuff.

White Rice Flour ~ this one is a good one to buy from your local Asian Stores...makes your goodies so good!

Xanthan Gum ~ This one will make you raise an eyebrow or two...quite spendy...but you don't use too much of it at a time...essential to have, so grab yourself some.  This is also found in the bulk section of Winco ~ BUT it is with all the spices, not in the'll be happy to know that if you didn't already.  :0)

That's about it, aside from the normal baking powder and soda and such...
I've found that I use a lot more baking powder than I had in the past and less baking soda. 
That might be a good thing to note for yourself.

HUGE NOTE!!!  Do yourself a big ol' favor and write what the contents of your bag are on the little tag, cause sure enough you'll get them home and not have the slightest idea which is which -- they look so much alike. 

My next post will contain the flour recipes...
so head to the store and pick up the things on your shopping list and get ready to bake!

(Note:  The items above will cover making all of your goodies from cookies to cakes to pies to pancakes, Belgian waffles, German pancakes, biscuits, rolls, french bread, flour tortillas, pizza crust, doughnuts, sweet rolls and muffins)

For a heartier whole grain style bread that is still Gluten Free...I will share some ideas with you a little later on.  :0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Auction Day has come and gone...

A day that I've dreaded for some time now has passed.
I've tried to busy myself enough to not have to think about it...
I've done a mighty fantastic job of avoiding such a tender subject.

The home of my dreams
the home I watched my babies grow up in
the home in which we all learned how to work together
the home that is no longer my home
The hope of ever returning

November 6th our home went to auction.
With it went my white picket fence dreams.
I wanted so badly to be there,
I wanted to blurt out that this was my home
and that it just didn't feel fair
or right
that it's not okay to mess with people's lives when they are doing all that they can do
I wanted to yell at someone
and tell them how rotten they had treated us
that we are good people
not losers
that we had dreams and hopes and desires...

I voted
I taught school
and I cooked
and I cleaned
and I counted my blessings.

I looked around me

I am happy
I am at home
I am okay
We may not own this house
but it is our home
and it is warm
and happy
and comfortable.

I can still dream here
my babies will continue to grow up here
we will continue to work together
and to grow together
and to be close together
love is here.

So auction day...
you came
you took
you are gone
I forgive you
it's okay
I've moved on
behind that tear or two
is a smile
that will endure all.

Hoping for Something Magical...

It's not a competition...
It's not a competition...
It's not a competition...

If I keep telling myself this
maybe I won't feel like I'm losing!

Keep smiling  :0)
And remember that this isn't about who is right and who is wrong and one of us doesn't have to come out the winner and the other the loser.

It is just about keeping a beautiful relationship alive and well
while at the same time hoping to accomplish what is best in the end for all.

This evening, I spent a little time visiting with Mr. Lytle about how I am feeling regarding The Questions of my Heart (Previous Posts)
He desperately tries to figure me out...
He finally said to me, I think you just hope that Something Magical Will Happen and you want to make sure it does...
You live in a world of Magical Thoughts ~
that's why you love Disneyland so much.
He is delightful to me ~ he kissed me on the forehead at dinner knowing that my heart is so tangled in knots ~ he really does try to help...but he also wants to give me space to work things out.

Is there something wrong with this kind of magical/wishful thinking?
Am I "not getting it"?
Am I pushing too hard?
Can you hope to much?
Are Magical things still possible?

After speaking with Mr. Wonderful, I moved on to his wonderfully sweet son...
I expressed my thoughts and my Magical Desires to him,
just KNOWING that he would totally embrace everything I had to say and that we'd all live happily ever after in my little magical wonder world I've tried to create for everyone around me...
He shot it all to pieces --
in a very respectful sort of way,
he was kind and considerate --
just very honest and forthcoming with his point of view.

I smiled, told him I loved him and left him in peace,
no crying, no yelling, no forcing...just loving.

I hope that will bring about the something magical I pray will happen for him.
He knows that he means enough to me for me to listen and to respect and to trust in him ~ and I do.

Now I will just pray for another magical moment to touch his heart and continue to build in him all that he will need in this life to be strong and steadfast.

Special little note: 
IF you read my last two posts...
you will notice that I said I would do the whole Mutual Respect thing, but that I MIGHT blow it and just blurt out the famous words ~ BECAUSE I'm the MOM, now DO IT!!!  But I didn't, I totally kept my cool...I did exactly what I hoped I would be able to do...
I need it NOW,
don't know how long I can keep up being so good!!!  ;)

Introspection kinda stinks!

Have you ever had a night that was filled with more thinking than sleeping or dreaming?

Last night was one of those for me!

If you have not read my previous post, titled
The questions of my heart...

YOU MUST scroll on down and read it first or this one won't make any sense to you at all...
so go on...
do a little scrolling
and then scroll back on up here.
Don't worry, I'll wait for you.  ;)

Okay, READY???

So back to last night
and my thoughts and what I wrote
and why I couldn't sleep after what I wrote...

I went to bed thinking that I had started out my post with what one of the real issues was and then I just breezed right on past it and chose to never address it again.  I had high hopes that I wouldn't NEED to address it again...well, that is not the case.

These are the words I used to start out last nights post: 
"So I have cause to worry that I may be in the wrong...

Have you ever stopped to consider that some of the things you may "require" of your children are for more benefit to you than to them?"

This is the first moment I've had to sit and write where my heart is at.
Our morning started out in a very rushed sort of pace...
final touches
for all the Science Fair Projects
were in order and then finalizing the awards for all the kiddos presenting...
then getting there, setting up, watching and listening to all the kiddos present and then passing out awards, cleaning up and heading back home...yada yada yada...phew!!!
Now I can let my mind be where it needs to be. 
It was hard to focus on anything else, when all I could think of was all this big kid stuff!

I must say, Introspection can be rough!
Not the easiest thing to do,
maybe something I shouldn't do
cause it can really stink!

It's kind of a yucky feeling to question your motives and your actions when you are the mom...yep, it just stinks!  That's all I can say.

As I pondered all.night.long...
and much of the day long...
I came to a very hard realization.

I may very well be placing others above my very own child.
I may be more concerned with what my friends may think of me
than what my child wishes, or in this case, doesn't wish to do.

I have had to ask myself some tough questions...
Am I so worried about what others will think of me as a mother,
or of my son, as a person...
if he doesn't participate in something that is dreadfully hard for him,
that I am willing to force my will upon him?
Does it REALLY matter what anyone else thinks?
The answer to that is very easy ~
NO, It does NOT matter!
So if the answer is no,
why do I care?
And is my worry overshadowing what may be the right choice for my child?

Is it even the real issue?
Or does it just feel like HE SHOULD DO THIS no matter what he thinks???

These are all the things that my heart and my mind have been tossing back and forth!

So digging a little deeper,
I have been able to throw out
(at least I think I have)
the worry about ANYONE else
and what they may think
of me or my family...
I know that I am doing my best
and I know that my kids are really good kids.

So, what I really wish for them is to experience all that is available to them in this life.
My plan is to share how I really feel with this wonderful son of mine...I will express to him WHY I FEEL this particular thing is vital for him and I will be open to listening to him. 
Remember that Mutual Respect thing...
I'm going to practice it and honor it...
we both have the right to input on our decisions. 

Dang...this is hard...I just want him to do what I want him to do...
I sure hope I don't blow the mutual respect and just say
now do it and be happy about it
and quit yer bickering!!!

I'll be sure to let you know if I, once again, miss out on winning The Mother of the Year Award!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The questions of my heart...

So I have cause to worry that I may be in the wrong...

Have you ever stopped to consider that some of the things you may "require" of your children are for more benefit to you than to them?

I am struggling with choosing my battles
while at the same time struggling to retain consistency in the things that I believe are important.
This is where it gets sticky...
If I believe something is important
does that mean that my children should also feel the same level of importance?
Does it matter if they do?
Is it silly to think that could ever happen?
or that it SHOULD happen?
Am I the end-all?
Does my feeling
or my belief
trump theirs?
Is my belief or my wish
hefty enough to outweigh
their wish or belief?

If a child feels very strongly about something
and I, in turn,
feel just as strongly
in the opposite direction...

I am not in this thing called

to win...
It is not a competition
between my children and myself.

And IF I ever get to the point that my struggle becomes to win...
I have, in all essence, lost.

Because at that point,
I have lost the most important thing...
the relationship I have with my child.
I should value that above and beyond all.

I so strongly believe that my children deserve respect...
I expect respect
and I believe they deserve my respect;
from this comes a wonderful balance of mutual respect.
Mutual respect does not mean letting a child have their own way,
but it does mean that I regard him as a person with the same rights to make decisions as I have.

back to my dilemma ~
at what point do I back down
or say "okay, you can make your choices"
and then be okay with what that choice.
At what point do I say
"I'm sorry, I am asking you to do________
and I need you to respect that request."
(I must insert here that these are not choices of good or bad,
they are not life and death issues,
they are simply choices of what I feel may benefit them
or build them
or strengthen them...
I would not be writing of things that were of serious consequence ~
those would not be open to negotiation)
as I write that I feel so strongly
that what I wish for this particular child to do,
in this case,
could bring with it
a natural consequence
that could help to shape his life forever in a beautiful way.

My desire to "Help" my children become their very best
is truly a righteous desire...
It isn't about me,
it's about them.

can I "force" them
to be who I wish for them to be?
Am I forcing my will on them
by strongly encouraging
and at times
even putting my foot down
to get my way?
Even though in my heart, I am doing what I feel is best for them...

Or am I simply leading and guiding? 
No force involved? 
Just being the Mom I'm supposed to be?

These are the questions of my heart this night.

Does anyone, anywhere have the answer for me???

it is not easy
to be the


I only wish to do right by my children.
I wish to not shove who I am down their throats.
I wish to have them experience all that is good and wonderful in this life.
I wish to protect their hearts.
I wish to expose them to those things that will strengthen them.
I wish to encourage them and allow them to be who they are meant to be.
I wish to trust
and sit back
and know
that I do not have to be in control
and to know that all the experiences
they have in this life
will serve to mold and refine them into
exactly who they are meant to become.

Rest easy heart...
they will "become" in their very own special way.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Random Ramblings...

What a weekend...
I think I need a "weekend" now just to recover from our crazy weekend!

Our Friday Night Dinner Party
a.k.a. "The Man Feast"
was fantastic!!!
Great friends, food was yummy, tables looked pretty,
we didn't run out of food (always one of my biggest worries)
lots of laughing and mingling and smiles...
love seeing the smiles!

While all of the prepping and last minute touches were happening for the Man Feast, I had my hubby and boys preparing for a scout camp out and my 3 youngest kiddos heading out for a Primary Practice for their Primary Program that happened this morning.  It was feeling a little crazy at my house!

Just the night before (Thursday night) was a Pack Meeting for Scouts...
I am the Cub Master for the Cub Scouting Program...
Our focus for the evening was Veterans Day ~
we talked of the responsibility we have as citizens and then we spent some time with a friend of ours who spoke to the boys and answered questions regarding his time in Iraq. 
I feel it is imperative that our boys
(meaning all of my little cub scouts ~ all 20 + of 'em!)
have a love and an understanding of our rights and our freedoms, I want them to understand that our freedoms do not come free and that it is because of our Veterans that we enjoy the lives we do.

Saturday morning, bright and early...all of my own boys, together with all the other scouts, gathered at our home to head out for a morning of "Scouting for Food"...this is a beautiful program that benefits the communities we live in.  The Boy Scouts go out and gather food to donate to the hungry.  I love the service opportunities these boys have...what a blessing they are to others!

Saturday was also packed with a little fun time for me...
I spent a little time crafting...
I mastered Bow Making ~ yippee...
Wigs me out just a bit that I haven't even given a thought to the fact that Christmas is right around the corner. 
Haven't the foggiest idea what anyone might receive...
but I do know...
whatever it is --
it will look unbelievably fantastic under our tree!!!
I am planning to have the cutest packages ever under my tree with adorable bows...can't wait! 
I'm thinking I might have to wrap a few cereal boxes just so I can add extra presents under the tree; what kiddo doesn't love a box of Sugar coated Sugar??? 

I learned a few new techniques for pie making ~
I'm ready to give them a shot...
I need to master a Gluten Free Pie Crust and then I'll give all the cute little extras a go!

I did a little painting and made a new necklace.
If I ever get around to it, I'll post a few photos...
My phone just takes
to get the tonight it just can't happen.

Then Saturday evening ~ a date night with my hubby!
LOVE date nights!!!!!!!

We headed to the Cheesecake Factory...
a friend of ours is the Chef there ~
after our divine dinner,
he invited me back to tour the kitchen ~
Yep, he knows I am a food fanatic...
so he shared his love of cooking with me.
He has been so kind and has shared a few of his little secrets...
love all the helpful tips ~ it is inspiring to me and makes me want to just keep learn and experimenting.
My family is pretty happy that I LOVE cooking for them!

Saturday evening after our yummy dinner together,
my hubby walked with me in to the mall so I could sign up for a cooking class with Williams Sonoma...
I am really excited for it. 
I just have to be careful to not feel inadequate...

I am fairly simple
not too fancy
I just try to cook the yummiest stuff possible
and then attempt to make it look fantastic as I serve it...
I fail in comparison ~


I'm not gonna compare...
why ruin it for myself???

I'll just be me
and do the best I can do
and then be happy with it
and if I can learn some extra great stuff ~
and if it feels too BIG, I'll just stick to what I do and be happy.
Moving on to today, Sunday...
My little ones sang beautifully in their Primary Program at church today ~
makes my heart smile!
Little people just have a way of bringing out the best in big people!

Spent time with all my kids and my little grand babies tonight...
it's so good to have them all with me
(even if I'm falling asleep on the couch after such a big weekend)

Monday will hold a bunch of fun stuff in the Lytle Household...
Preparing for Science Fair Projects
cooking class later in the day...
bundle those up with our regular routine
and it's sure to be a whirlwind.
I'm thinking the perfect way to start out such a day will be with hot cocoa and snuggling..then we'll move on to the busy-ness of it all!
I'll be sure to share my kiddos Projects with you...
LOVE Science Fairs!!!

Have a wonderful week ~
I'll be talking with you again very soon.  :0)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dinner Party TONIGHT!!!


So excited for a big party...
I LOVE entertaining,
just makes me smile!
And then when I get to plan the menu and cook the food ~ BONUS!
Yesterday, I will admit, I was a little tired and thinking to myself that this felt a little too big to make happen, but this morning, I'm ready...set...go!

15 couples joining us tonight for a scrumptious dinner!!!

Just making sure all my bases are covered ~
last night the beef brisket marinated ~
now tucked very nicely in the ovens and cooking away.
Kiddos are dispersed doing their "jobs" for the day,
one is dusting,
one is emptying the dishwasher,
another taking care of the turtles,
another handling laundry duty
and a couple others working on leaves in the front yard.

Cooking Music in place...
YES, you must have great music to cook by.
My choice of music, you ask???
Well, 80's rock ~ who can go wrong there?
It just makes you want to work.
And I can sing almost every word to every song!
And if you need a little change (but I'm doubting that will happen!)
I'll just switch it over for a little country.
LOVE country music...but for cooking, Rock is where it's at!!!

The menu for the evening:
I know you wanna know  ;)

Texas Style Beef Brisket
Texas Grilled Chicken with Lime Butter
Fresh Coleslaw
Loaded Baked Potatoes
Homemade Garlic Parmesan Bread

and to sweeten and freshen it up at the end
a yummy little
Lemon Dulce Cup topped with fresh raspberries...

Is your mouth watering?
Mine is...
but it's because of the amazing aroma happening in my kitchen at the moment.

must get busy...
Have a couple more things to prep
decorations to dig out
and tables to set up.

I have a sweet friend coming to take me to the store to pick up my last few items.
I think we'll swing by and pick up a bundle or two of flowers
and hit the dollar store for some fun accents for the tables.

For any of my super sweet friends who are feeling a little jipped that I didn't send you an invite...let me just tell you this dinner is for all my homeschooling friends...Once or twice a year, we try to put on a big night for homeschooling moms and dads...
I like to just give them a big ol' pat on the back...
the work they are doing is BIG.
And they are just fun to be with...

As for the rest of you ~
when shall we plan a fun party???

I'm ready.  :0)

love you all!